I came back from vacation this week only to be greeted with bad news: Pharmalot, Ed Silverman’s blog on the pharmaceutical industry, is no more. How disappointing! The demise of Pharmalot not only creates a big hole in coverage — for me and many other reporters and bloggers — but it is an inauspicious omen. If a large metropolitan daily like the Star Ledger (owned by Newhouse, a publishing powerhouse) can not see its way toward continuing such an incredibly useful source of news, one has to wonder what that augers for the future of good journalism overall.
Sure, there are plenty of other good health blogs, but Pharmalot was unique. To begin with, it was one of the few blogs that hewed to some form of objectivity, posting good and bad news about the pharmaceutical industry day in and day out. Silverman also covered the industry with greater depth than most other news-oriented blogs, such as the WSJ’s health blog (which tends to cover a broader range of health news).
Equally important, Silverman was bolder than the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in consistently delivering scoops about malfeasance in the drug and medical device industry. For example, as Senator Charles Grassley’s investigations into conflicts of interest among doctors and researchers on the industry’s payroll began to unfold last summer, Pharmalot was usually the first to post the news, followed by the mainstream press.
Finally, Silverman’s inexhaustible postings were almost always accurate and fairly presented. As a result, Pharmalot developed a loyal following, as can been seen by the potporri of comments that were posted after each salacious scoop.
Now that Pharmalot has ceased to exist, I, along with many other health bloggers, will have to work that much harder to sift through and break news about the pharmaceutical industry — a reality that industry executives will no doubt welcome. No, this is not a good start to the New Year at all.